Dreamscapes: Inspiration and beauty in gardens near and far
by Claire Takacs
For almost a decade readers of Gardens Illustrated have enjoyed a privileged view of some of the world’s most beautiful gardens, as seen through the expressive lens of Claire Takacs’s camera.
The first garden in the book, Cloudehill, is an Arts and Crafts-inspired masterpiece just down the road from her family home in Victoria, Australia, and was the catalyst that ignited her passion for garden photography. But, she has discovered many other exceptional creations through an extensive network of relationships between gardeners, designers and nursery owners that blur international boundaries and make the world of horticulture richer.
A visit to photograph Daniel J Hinkley’s garden at Windcliff resulted in him introducing Takacs to Martha Stewart’s summer garden. Her friendship with landscape designer Thomas Gooch led her to visit the Lavender Garden in Spain created by designers Miguel Urquijo and Renate Kastner, who crossed paths with Gooch at Great Dixter. Noel Kingsbury’s name crops up on many pages, and the gardens she showcases are largely in the New Perennial style he champions.
Takacs’s misty, magical style certainly shows off a back-lit stand of Miscanthus to great effect, and Piet Oudolf’s own garden is included, but she roams stylistically as well as geographically. While primarily an inspiring coffee table book, this is also a fascinating insight into the life of a garden photographer, the hard slog of 16-hour drives and pre-dawn alarm clocks, and the fleeting moments of magic that make it all worthwhile. ‘I know the light is good when I am actually running around a garden, following its first rays and trying to capture this softness.’